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Bulgaria, France, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey join Czech Republic and Slovakia in U20 Men's European finals

Bulgaria were the first team to stamp their ticket to the finals on early Sunday evening

Luxembourg, Luxembourg, April 28, 2014 - The 2nd Round of qualification for the 2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men is now over and a total of seven teams, in addition to the two organizers, have now reserved their spots in the Final Round scheduled to take place in Czech Republic and Slovakia from August 29 through September 9 of this year.  Bulgaria, France, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey won the seven pools over the weekend and can now start preparing for their decisive matches in Brno and Nitra.

The 2013 world and European champions in the youth boys’ category from Russia most convincingly topped their pool by not losing a single set in their three matches.  The only other team, which managed to win the full set of 9 points from their pool, was Turkey despite the opposition coming from the strong German team.  The 2013 European runner-up Poland, which came from the only qualification pool with three team, also took 3-point victories against both its opponents to claim the first place in the table.

As an illustration of how competitive their pools were, the other four winners did not have the cruise-liner luxury of not having to play at least one tie-breaker.  Thus Bulgaria topped its home pool in Sofia thanks to the amazing comeback it achieved against Greece on the first competition day.  France had to struggle through five sets again host Portugal on the second competition day and stayed unbeaten thanks to that narrow 17-15 in the tie-breaker.  For Romania, the last match of its home campaign was a real final for the first place against the powerful Spanish team and ended up being decided in the fifth set as well.

And while Bulgaria, France and Romania topped their pools undefeated with 8 points each, for the team of Slovenia this qualification was a real thrill and was achieved with a record of only 5 points.  In what was dubbed ‘the Pool of Death’, not only for the letter ‘D’, but also for the level playing ground with four equally strong participants that could knock each other out at any time, the Slovenes managed to beat Serbia by 3-1 in the very last match to move from the last to the first place in the standings, beating the Serbs to it on point ratio.

Ironically, it was the ‘Pool of Death’ where two teams survived for the 3rd Round of qualification.  The seven runners-up – Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Serbia and Spain, will be joined in July by the best one of the seven third-placed teams, and it happens to be Finland from Pool D, to determine the last three finalists for Brno and Nitra.

The 3rd Round of qualification will take place between July 10 and 13 at two different venues yet to be determined.  The eight teams will split into two pools with four in each with the two pool winners and the best-ranked runner-up qualifying for the finals.  The squads of Estonia, Germany, Greece and Spain will comprise Pool H and the selections of Belgium, Finland, Italy and Serbia will battle each other in Pool I.

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